Cultivate a Good Mental Disposition
WHAT would you do if you suddenly learned that the Sovereign Ruler of the universe was displeased with you? Would you abandon your place and bolt for cover, some imagined safer place? Would you resent his rebuke and corrective rod of discipline and rebel against it, or would you humbly acknowledge your wrongful action, turn from such course and accept the chastening discipline of Jehovah? You would be wise to do the latter, for God’s Word counsels us on this matter: “If the spirit of the ruler rise up against thee, leave not thy place; for submissiveness causeth great offences to be avoided.”—Eccl. 10:4, Le.
Only recently, during World War I, the remnant of the little flock had just such an experience. Because of the political and religious pressure of those troublesome days they were guilty of fear of man. They were taken into captivity by the enemy. Then they grieved as they recognized their position and begged Jehovah’s forgiveness.
They did not, as did the “evil servant” group, find fault with Jehovah’s discipline and reject it. They wanted nothing more than to retain their place in Jehovah’s mercy and their place of service. For them it became a matter of enduring his discipline in hope of appeasing his spirit. “My son, do not belittle the discipline from Jehovah, neither give out when you are corrected by him; for whom Jehovah loves he disciplines, in fact he scourges everyone whom he receives as a son. It is for discipline you are enduring.” (Heb. 12:5-7) Jehovah’s spirit did soften! They were restored to his favor with greater and grander privileges. Shortly they were singing, and still sing: “And in that day thou shalt say, I will give thanks unto thee, O Jehovah; for though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortest me.”—Isa. 12:1, AS.
From the way the word “spirit” is used in Ecclesiastes 10:4 and in many other places in the Bible, it is clear that this is one of the distinct uses or meanings of the Hebrew word ruʹahh, which is usually translated spirit. In keeping with the underlying general meaning of the Hebrew word, the meaning in this instance also refers to something invisible, but something that can produce visible results. This particular use to which the word is put relates to one’s state of mind or mental disposition or mental attitude. That is something no human eye can fathom. It can and does, however, produce seeable physical actions.
Our mind is that faculty of our brain that enables us to search out information or evidence and to reason on it and to arrive at definite conclusions. By our mind we set our mental processes in action along any desired line of thought as a result of being endowed with the ability to decide for ourselves what we shall think about. We are not robots; we have free will. What we allow our minds to dwell upon makes lasting impressions in our brain, giving it a certain bent or inclination that, in turn, influences our conduct. When a man’s thoughts along a certain line become fixed enough to affect his conduct they are soon crystallized into physical action that anyone can observe. Since man does have free will, then two courses are before him as to his thinking, his mental attitude and resulting personality.
GOOD AND BAD DISPOSITION
The average person today is uninformed concerning the operation of Satan and his demons because of not knowing God’s Word. Leaning to worldly wisdom and human reasoning tainted with demonic influence, he falls easy prey to Satan’s devices. His thinking is warped along the lines of self-interest; and, having as associates those of the same frame of mind, he finds himself unable to control his spirit or mental disposition completely. “He whose spirit is without restraint is like a city that is broken down and without walls.” He cannot resist the pressures of this world over which Satan rules. Because of this he is unreliable, just as foretold concerning the last days of this system.—Prov. 25:28, AS; 2 Tim. 3:2, 3.
What a man thinks about he talks about. Violent deeds accompany vile and lawless talk, both bearing strong evidence of the depraved mental disposition and bad heart condition of the majority of mankind today. Strife is a common thing, because of not following Jehovah’s counsel (Prov. 17:14) and controlling one’s spirit. No one knows this better than Jehovah’s witnesses, who often have been the victims of brutal assault by those who have surrendered themselves to the passions of anger, either individually or in mobs.
In striking contrast with such persons stand those who have been gathered out of this corrupt system of things into the New World society. No dirty talking there! No vile or violent deeds are permitted. Why, how could there be such persons with the mental disposition that is evidenced by those who make up the society? That disposition is clearly explained by Paul when he says: “But we do have the mind of Christ.” Christ Jesus had a mind that was perfect and holy and guileless. He always had it in complete control and centered on doing the Father’s will. His attitude was not one of superiority or being puffed up with knowledge, although he had knowledge second only to One. He was mild-tempered and lowly of heart.—1 Cor. 2:16.
Among Jehovah’s witnesses today these same qualities are observed, although not in perfection. They have stripped off the old personality and put on the new personality. Their minds are filled with godly thoughts from God’s Word and their disposition is according to that decreed by Jehovah for those among whom he dwells. (Isa. 57:15, AS) They exercise self-control and direct the channel of their thoughts and desires so that they can be described as having a good mental disposition and righteous heart condition. The very lives they live from day to day give evidence of this to all who wish to observe it.
This does not mean that we can no longer get angry or lose our temper. We can, and for that reason we must continually be on guard. We can get angry against underhanded enemy action; we may feel anger against some within the organization at times; we may even feel angry with ourselves occasionally. Why, even Paul and Barnabas once gave way to a burst of anger between themselves. In these instances, however, our anger and its manifestation are far different from the frenzied outburst of some demonized half-mad person without control of his spirit. Ephesians 4:25-27 faces up to our problem and gives us the right advice: “Wherefore, now that you have put away falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, because we are members belonging to one another. Be angry, and yet do not sin; let the sun not set with you in a provoked state, neither allow place for the Devil.” We must control our anger.—Prov. 17:27.
CULTIVATING THE PROPER DISPOSITION
In these last days, with the execution of Jehovah’s judgments staring us in the face, it is vital for us to cultivate and retain the right disposition, for no other kind will be allowed to survive Armageddon. It can be done. To encourage us and assure us that it is possible Jehovah counsels us in his Word to imitate his Son: “Keep this mental attitude in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 2:5) To know Christ’s mental attitude means study of the Sacred Record, where his thoughts and teaching are set down. His was the uncomplaining mind with no grumbling at his assignment. His delight was to do his Father’s slightest wish. That is the attitude to cultivate.
So we are to quit fashioning our mind after the self-seeking model of this world and make our mind over to resemble that of Christ Jesus, a mind that knows the good and acceptable and complete will of God. (Rom. 12:2, 11, 12) Through taking in accurate knowledge we change the bent of our mind and acquire a proper unselfish motive as our force in life. Prayer is necessary; it gives us strength. Jehovah’s active force comes into play, giving us the will to serve him and the ability to do so. His active force together with his Word will transform us so that our new personality will have his approval and blessing.
It is a mistake to think that such a transformation can take place apart from the New World society. Association with it and participation in its activities are absolutely necessary. Through working with it and meeting with our brothers in the various congregational meetings and field service arrangements we advance to maturity. We must always remember that we learn the truth from Jehovah’s channel of communication, the “faithful and discreet slave” class. (Matt. 24:45-47) We receive of his spirit by our continued association with his channel. Sometimes we receive reproofs or discipline through the same agency, for we all need discipline to keep a right mental attitude. Loving association with the brothers preserves that attitude. We can hardly harbor anger or a grudge and still have a good disposition. We know better than to do so. We keep “carefully watching that no one may be deprived of the undeserved kindness of God; that no poisonous root may spring up and cause trouble and many be defiled by it.” (Heb. 12:15) Pride because of position in the organization or because of any other reason must not be found in us. To be guilty of that disposition would cause a rising of Jehovah’s spirit that would mean, at least, a jolting fall in the way of discipline through the organization or, at most, destruction by Jehovah’s Executioner.
Very shortly now Jehovah’s anger against all the proud of this system of things and all who are identified with it will be manifested in the destructive fury of Armageddon. While his anger will never be expressed against the loyal New World society, it can be expressed against any of the society who corrupt their good mental disposition. Be on guard, then, constantly that such a thing may never happen. Then you can share in Jehovah’s triumph and rejoice in the glorious salvation he will work in behalf of those who continue to have the attitude of his dear Son. “The undeserved kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ be with the spirit you show, brothers.” “May the spirit and soul and body of you brothers be preserved blameless at the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ.”—Gal. 6:18; 1 Thess. 5:23.